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‘Retirement-first’ approach to benefits key to attracting talent for recovery: Report

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November 16, 2021
By Talent Canada

A new research report from Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) and Common Wealth, The Value of a Good Pension: The business case for good workplace retirement plans, suggests that a “retirement first” approach to workplace benefits may be the key to businesses’ ability to attract and retain talent, and improve productivity.

The report takes a comprehensive look at how businesses can better serve both their employees and their own bottom lines by offering retirement savings plans. The findings result from an in-depth analysis that included: a review of industry and academic literature; 25 interviews with Canadian employers (representing a cross section of businesses and other organizations), industry and academic experts; modelling to assess the business value of offering retirement plans; and HOOPP’s 2021 Canadian Employer Pension Survey of over 800 private sector employers.

“There has been talk recently about whether Canada will see a ‘Great Resignation’ of employees leaving their jobs in pursuit of better benefits and pay,” says Steven McCormick, SVP, Plan Operations at HOOPP. “Many employers may be asking what will set them apart in recruiting valuable talent. Our research suggests retirement savings plans can provide that competitive advantage.”

Common Wealth co-founder and co-CEO Alex Mazer notes: “A common perspective from HR professionals is that retirement benefits are something to be added only after health benefits and other employee perks are in place. But there is often a strong business case for putting retirement benefits in early as part of a total compensation package.”


Many of the employers interviewed said retirement benefits differentiate them as an employer and if they didn’t offer them, they would be significantly less attractive to prospective hires. Other studies have confirmed this:

  • The 2021 Canadian Employer Pension Survey found the vast majority of employers who offer retirement benefits say they are very or extremely important to recruitment (83.
  • Seventy-nine per cent of all workers (those with and without pensions) said pensions are important for making a job attractive, according to the 2021 Canadian Retirement Survey.
  • A 2014 Manulife study found a majority of employees valued a group retirement plan as much as extended vacation, and a majority who belong to a workplace group retirement plan agreed it increased retention and loyalty towards employers.

HOOPP’s 2021 Canadian Employer Pension Survey also found that workplace retirement savings can reduce financial stress for employees, leading to improved productivity. Seventy-three per cent of employers said financially stressed employees are less productive, and 85 per cent of employers offering retirement benefits said they were important to helping in the stress management of employees.

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